The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps almost 40 million people in Texas and around the country to meet their food bills. The rules outlining how the program is administered can be found in the Food and Nutrition Act and SNAP regulations, and they allow states to deny food stamps to noncustodial and custodial parents who are not willing to cooperate with state agencies that oversee child support. However, few states have chosen to implement the child support cooperation provisions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants that to change, and the agency sent a memo on May 1 to SNAP program directors in every state that urged them to implement child support cooperation provisions. Research shows that many children could benefit if states heeded this advice. More than a third of the children who live in one-parent homes in the United States live in conditions of poverty, and less than half of the custodial parents who would qualify for food stamps have a child support agreement in place.

Child support programs were put into place partly to prevent children from becoming burdens on taxpayers, but this goal is only achieved if child support payments are made in a timely manner. The USDA hopes that implementing child support cooperation provisions will reduce the child support deficit. This figure represents the difference between child support obligations and the amount that noncustodial parents actually pay. It currently stands at $13.5 billion.

Experienced family law attorneys in Texas may help custodial parents who are not receiving court-ordered child support following a divorce or separation by pursuing the remedies that state law provides. Delinquent child support may be collected in Texas by seizing lottery winnings or income tax refunds, and liens may be placed on personal assets held by noncustodial parents such as bank accounts and insurance plans. Noncustodial parents with unpaid child support obligations may also be unable to obtain a passport or a driver’s license.